“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

— Albert Einstein

What is it that you possess the most of when you are a child? What is it that wanes further and further the more mature you seem to grow? A miraculous seventh sense — the sixth spot was taken by intuition; the sense that can only remain fully functioning when you arrest the process of ageing — of your heart, not your body. Ironically though, it is also the very thing that arrests the process of aging in the first place; it keeps your heart young forever. And that is the sense of wonder.

It is the child’s awe and amazement at everything from a flower to a rainbow to a snowflake and a ripple on the surface of a lake. The wonder at every new thing she or he experiences, the exuberance and capacity for infinite joy at the simplest experiences in life. As we grow up we trade — consciously or unconsciously—this seventh sense for the little thing we perceive as maturity. As time passes, the world around us sends us signals that expressing too much happiness might be seen as ‘childish’ (as if the child were a terrible being) and revealing our wonder at the small miracles around us might put us in the category of naïve, inexperienced or worse, a simpleton. So we trade this capacity for exclamation and exuberance, we trade the capacity for rapture and choose a rather fake maturity, a dull sombreness, a superior air of having seen it all — but that is all it is, generally — an air, a cloak, a veneer. Because the child inside every person never dies.

Childhood is that little place inside us, within our softest core, which we seek and yearn to return to. It is for this reason that parenthood brings us so much joy — we find a perfectly valid excuse to free the child inside us, to let our guard down and let the rapture and exuberance that envelops the core of our being burst forth like kaleidoscopic fireworks in the sky. The child becomes an excuse for us to experience Neverland — the magical land where none ever grows up — without having to lose the sanctified cloak of adulthood. We use our children as perfectly logical excuses to indulge in behaviour that is otherwise considered unbecoming of mature and serious people — clowning around gaily, laughing with abandon, letting our imaginations run free. All of those things that are actually an answer to the call of the child inside your core, who looks at the world always with amazement and rapture. It is not your child that brings childhood back to you; it is you living out your Neverland through the un-grown bodies of your children.

In truth it is the ones that keep their inner childhood alive, the ones that marvel at the universe and the many wonders it unfolds, the many miracles that go unnoticed in our everydays, who create the biggest wonders of human endeavour and achievement. It is the brightest and most receptive minds that keep their sense of wonder and capacity for rapture always alive. What’s more they also keep alive a child’s curiosity and constant thirst for answers to innumerable questions—they are explorers and discoverers unceasingly attempting to unlock secret doors. It is they who are truly mature and wise, for they know that childhood is the state where you learn the most; that childhood is the state of perpetual growth.

Zehra Naqvi